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State of the Rockies


Colorado College’s State of the Rockies project encourages students to explore critical environmental and social challenges of the Rocky Mountain West. Through faculty led research and out-of-classroom experiences, students gain an appreciation of the region’s physical characteristics and the impact of human land use activities while employing an inter-disciplinary approach to finding balance between human activity and our environment.                                             

Conservation in the West poll

  Winter Sunrise at Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Photo by Stephen Weaver

Rockies 2020-2021 Project

Urbanization and Nature on the Front Range

Colorado's population is one of the fastest growing in the United States. Though many people are drawn here for the natural beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities offered in the state, rapid growth is putting pressure on these same resources. Climate change is further straining the state’s environment, and drought, floods, and forest fires threaten many of Colorado’s communities. Our current research explores the relationships among urbanization, nature, and climate change in Colorado.

One area of research we are undertaking looks at local and statewide initiatives to reduce carbon emissions through changing electricity production and transportation infrastructure. Research fellows are examining green transportation initiatives, particularly efforts to increasing electric vehicles across the state and local policies to enhance cycling infrastructure, both of which can improve public health and reduce the environmental impact of personal mobility. We are also examining efforts to reduce the cost and environmental impact of local energy production. As electricity production and transportation are major sources of greenhouse gas emissions in Colorado, these efforts have important implications for the overall environmental impact of our urban areas.

We are also examining ways that communities are preparing for a changing climate. This aspect of our research is examining the community assets that have helped agriculture dependent counties enhance resiliency in the face of drought and other threats to rural livelihoods; the variety of water transfer methods cities are adopting to secure a long-term urban water supply while supporting the needs of farmers and agricultural communities; and the political and technical challenges of city storm water management.

Overall, this year’s State of the Rockies project seeks to illuminate ways that actors in Colorado are rethinking our relationship to a changing climate and to understand how these changes can be built upon to create a more resilient region.


Rockies Research

MEET the Rockies 2019-2020 Research Fellows

FellowsWebshot 19.20

Check their blog bulletins as they explore the challenges of changing climatic conditions in the Rocky Mountain Front Range

Rockies fellows SCORE at CC's 2019 Family and Friends Weekend faculty-student researchSCORE19.20 conference

State of the Rockies fellows presented their summer projects during this year's Student Collaborative Research Experience (SCORE) conference.  The Fellows' researched various topics across the Rocky Mountain Front Range  -- from bike lane controversies in Colorado Springs to drought response in agricultural communities in eastern Colorado.  Family and friends joined students, faculty, and staff in CC's Cornerstone Arts Center for this summer research symposium held annually during CC's Friends and Family Weekend.  View the fellows' posters:


Project Partners

Rockies 2019 Photo Finalists

CC student photos show conservation concerns in 2019 State of the Rockies photo contest

Aspen decline in Rocky Mountain National Park
by Margaux Rose '20


Ski industry and climate change: decrease in epic skiing?
by Andrew Hildenbrand '20

Related Projects

Geodesign at CC

Water, Air, and Land


Changing Climate, Changing Lives


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